Gatsby took an arm of each of us and moved forward into the restaurant.
“Highballs?” asked the head waiter.
“Yes, highballs,” agreed Gatsby. “It’s too hot over there.”
(from The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald)
"Can't repeat the past? ... Why of course you can!" We're hoping for a final blaze of summer heat in September, as promised in the forecast, to remind us of July. Back then, we were in straw hats, cool cottons and long, floaty dresses, sipping iced tea and languishing in the shade: so far, so Gatsby. So quel horreur to discover that the original Long Island Iced Tea was simply a ruse to fool the FBI during Prohibition - adding Coca Cola to a highball transforms it into something that looks more like iced tea. So no tea, just an illusion.
We've been quaffing industrial quantities of the real stuff all summer, come shine or rain: iced tea with mint and lemon; or a rather racy tropical number with lime and mint, with lemongrass and ginger flavouring.
For the purposes of research, one could always add a slug or two of gin or vodka to get the real Prohibition buzz. But keep away from the Coke.
Lemon and Mint Iced TeaThe day before:
1 Make a large jug of tea, normal strength, preferably with loose leaf tea. Green tea or jasmine tea works especially well (The Canton Tea Company is a good on-line source). Strain: too long on the leaves will make the tea bitter. Cool, then refrigerate overnight.
2 Boil up some sugar syrup: add a lot of sugar to a small amount of water - this is not about dilution but a delivery mechanism for sweetness. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat; then cool and refrigerate.
The next day:
3 When ready for iced tea, half-fill a large glass with ice (cubed or crushed) and then add two slices of lemon, quartered, the juice of half a lemon, several sprigs of fresh mint (crushed slightly to release their flavour), and two tbs of chilled sugar syrup.
4 Stir to mix all the ingredients. Top up with chilled tea, stir again and sip to check the flavour, adding more lemon juice or sugar syrup to adjust. It may take a bit of tweaking until it is precisely to your taste.
Lemongrass and Lime Iced Tea
Follow the recipe above.
However, once the sugar syrup is ready and off the heat, add some star anise, finely chopped ginger, and crushed lemon grass, and leave it to infuse. Strain before use.
In the glass, use lime juice and slices, rather than lemon, to construct the drink.
Add a lemon grass stem to the glass to stir.
A tot of rum, rather than vodka or gin, would work well here!